3M Earplugs

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On August 28, 2023, 3M entered into a global settlement to resolve nearly 250,000 cases involving its Combat Arms earplugs. Those cases have been pending in the Middle District of Florida since 2019. The $6 billion global settlement will be funded by 3M over the course of several years. Plaintiffs who have suffered certain hearing-related injuries will receive settlement awards. Those awards will vary depending on the injuries incurred as well as the severity of those injuries. Additional information pertaining to the amount and timing of the settlement offers will be made available soon.

3M Earplug Lawsuit Update

According to Reuters,

“On Tuesday, July 26, 2022, 3M announced that it will seek to resolve the earplug claims in bankruptcy court.”

Aero Technologies, a subsidiary of 3M and the company that made the earplugs, filed a Petition for Relief under Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Indiana. They are asking the Court to allow them to create a trust fund to settle the 230,000 earplug claims pending against them in the MDL. 3M has stated that the bankruptcy will enable them to settle the earplug lawsuits more efficiently, but we do not agree with this assertion and will be challenging the legality of the bankruptcy.

3M Earplug Current News: Was the Bankruptcy Filed in Good Faith?

Information & What To Do

The Bankruptcy Court has agreed to a 3 week halt on all of the MDL litigation while things get sorted out and Judge Rodgers, who oversees the cases filed in the MDL, has already raised questions as to whether the bankruptcy was filed in good faith.

The problem with the bankruptcy, if approved, is that it will slow down the settlement process and the amounts of the settlement payouts will typically be less than if they were negotiated during litigation. Before filing the bankruptcy 3M was facing enormous pressure from the possibility of defending hundreds of trials next year.

If the bankruptcy moves forward, then that pressure will be relieved, and it will give 3M more leverage in the negotiations. 3M has agreed to set aside $1.2 billion to fund the proposed bankruptcy trust to settle the earplug claims, but $240 million of that is earmarked for the expenses or costs of the bankruptcy.

This amount is an insult to the Plaintiffs in the 3M MDL as it would only net each of the 230,000 plaintiffs less than $5,000.

This will take considerable negotiation and will have to be approved by a 75% vote of all of the creditors before it is approved by the Court.

What Does This Mean For You?

Next Steps For Your Case

If 3M is allowed to move forward with the bankruptcy, then all of the current lawsuits will be automatically stayed and the plaintiffs in those lawsuits will become “creditors.” The ultimate goal of a bankruptcy is to create a plan that allows the debtor (Aero) to pay its creditors (the plaintiffs) something in exchange for a release of their claims.

We will pass along more information as it becomes available. Please contact Murphy Law Firm if you are in need of a Personal Injury Attorney in Baton Rouge.

What are 3M Combat Arms™ Earplugs?

The defective earplugs were dual-ended, or “selective attenuation earplugs” and were designed to be worn two ways – either as traditional earplugs, to block out loud noises; or in the open position, to allow the wearer to hear speech and quieter noises. However, the stems of the earplugs were too short and would gradually loosen, permitting damaging sounds to enter the wearer’s ears.

The lawsuit alleged that Aero knew about the defective design, as early as 2000, and that they manipulated testing results in order to procure the military contract. The defective earplugs were standard issue for certain branches of the military from 2003 to 2015.

What’s Wrong With Them?

Although the dual-ended combat arms earplugs have been standard issue for over a decade, they have one major deficiency. The earplug stem is too short, preventing it from staying far enough inside the ear canal to effectively prevent high frequency sound from reaching the eardrum.

This issue has been found to be the cause of major ear problems with veterans. Long-term effects include tinnitus (ringing in the ears), hearing loss, and balance loss.

Lawsuits with 3M Earplugs

By the end of 2015, over 1 million veterans were being compensated for hearing loss. Although 3M claims no wrongdoing, they agreed to pay 9.1 million dollars in compensation to the the Department of Justice. 3M is currently being sued by individual plaintiffs that claim the company’s act of omitting their defects from public knowledge led to major personal/physical damages.

If you used these earplugs and you are suffering from hearing loss or worse, contact our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers at Murphy Law Firm. We will evaluate your claim, and work to get you the recovery compensation you so desperately deserve.

Scientific Studies About Veteran Hearing Loss

From Military Medical Research:

Military personnel are exposed to high levels of noise frequently, and this has led to hearing loss and tinnitus being the second most prevalent service-related disability. 3M’s actions could have contributed to these numbers. Military Medical Research,(link below), provides a report of the extent of the hearing loss problems.

From publicintegrity.org:

Hearing Loss widespread Among Post-9/11 Veterans; the most widespread injury for veterans has been hearing loss and other auditory complications.

From research.va.org:

Hearing problems—including tinnitus—are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.

News Articles:
  • Contractor settles for $9.1 million after providing defective earplugs for servicemembers.
  • Veterans sue, saying 3M Combat earplugs caused hearing injuries
  • Combat veteran files lawsuit for loss of hearing due to defective military earplugs

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